Diffbot is one of those applications (and companies) you probably are not even aware of when you use it, but that's not necessarily a problem for the company's co-founder and CEO Michael Tung.
That's because his product is a "visual learning robot," that hundreds of developers are using to translate web content into better mobile apps, and as such it stays pretty much under the hood.
"We've invented this visual ID algorithm," says Tung. One of our core insights is that the entire web can be classified down to 30 page types. There are product pages, event pages, news pages -- we can identify them visually with 99.999 accuracy."
Diffbot technology identifies each page's components, such as nav bars, footers, etc., as part of its identification process. Design standards are such that there is a high degree of similarity between the various page types grouped by category.
One customer using Diffbot at present is AOL's recently launched Editions, which is a personalized daily magazine for the tablet.
Ever since Tim Armstrong became its CEO in April 2009, AOL has been going through a makeover. The company hired a large number of experienced journalists and bloggers, expanded through Patch into localities all over the country, and made some high-profile acquisitions, including HuffPo and TechCrunch.
But if the company is going to deliver on what SVP Marty Moe described to me in mid-2009 as a business model built on "high-quality content to scale," it is going to take a lot more than just good writing, a network of hyperlocal hubs and absorbing other media properties.
What it will take will be technological innovation of the sort driving the boom-without-a-name currently sweeping through San Francisco and the Valley. Armstrong, Moe and team know that and that's why they've opened an office in Palo Alto, filling it with developers, as well as a gaggle of startup tenants, and an executive team experienced in the ways of the Valley.